In 2011 my first historical fiction, MORE PRECIOUS THAN GOLD, was a finalist in the Grace Awards. I was thrilled by the confirmation that people enjoyed my story and considered the writing good…but four years later the sequel remains half finished. Why, then, was I selected to write about writing and thankfulness?
A funny thing happened on the way to publication. After I wrote my first project–a homeschool history curriculum–my brain was bursting with human interest stories I’d discovered during my research. I had a vision for any number of historical novels, but a job change for my husband meant a move and remodeling projects for me. Somehow I finished my first fiction project and started on the sequel but writing paused as our daughter married her sweetheart. Their happy day was the culmination of months of planning. As the year drew to a close, I had just time to develop a sort of “one off” project before the holidays.
HOME SWEET HOLE was an enjoyable experiment that linked my passions for writing, fantasy, and sustainable architecture. I expected to get back to my historical series after New Year’s, but 2014 turned out to be the year of parental care. We lost both our fathers that year after lingering illnesses, relocated both mothers, and helped them through four surgeries. Again toward the end of the year, I wrote Nabbing Saint Nickolas–a short piece we sent in lieu of Christmas cards. I told myself I was just staying in the game. Next year would be more productive…but the next year it was our son’s turn to launch. With our nest truly empty, I turned to writing once more, but over the years my direction had changed. Stories still fill my heart, but my non-fiction homeschool resources do a better job of filling my bank account.
Moral: Life happens! Instead of feeling disgruntled about “career interruptions”, I am grateful for the privilege of being an independent writer. Here is a partial list of the blessings for which I’m grateful:
- My writing career is portable. My husband’s relocation meant the sacrifice of my “day job” but challenged me to make a switch and gave me the opportunity to commit to my writing craft.
- As an indie writer, I control my schedule and my deadlines. Because writers write from their own observations about life, it is good to take time for the milestones that make memories.
- I am free to experiment. Did I plan to write such diverse genres? No more than I planned anything else that has happened…but I have learned and grown from each experience. Writing Discover Texas developed outlining, research, and organizational skills. Writing historical fiction taught me to listen for my characters’ voices as I wrote dialogue and deep points of view. Home Sweet Hole taught me that not all projects are meant for a wide audience. I learned to enjoy the rave reviews and shrug off the complainers. Nabbing Saint Nickolas challenged me to tell a story and paint a vivid picture using few words. And the Homeschool Parents’ How-To Series is teaching me to press toward a challenging deadline and develop marketing strategies. Writing is, after all, a business as well as a passion.
- Each experience allows me to explore. New genres! I’ve developed more flexibility in my writing. What readers like is not always what I like, and what I thought I’d like is not always what I end up liking best. New talents! Who knew I could enjoy illustrating so much? New technologies! I am constantly forced to learn faster, cleaner, and more efficient ways of doing things, and that knowledge carries into the next project!
Even though my career has taken unplanned detours, I’m thankful for each challenge along the winding road and for the freedom to explore that path and find contentment.
What about you? Has your career trajectory been a straight line climbing a chart to success, or have you discovered that some “setbacks” are opportunities in disguise?